Frequently Asked Questions 

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions we have received over the years about preserving your land, conservation easements, and the Gates Mills Land Conservancy (GMLC) in general. 

What is a conservation easement?
A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a land trust, such as the GMLC, which restricts future activities on the land in order to preserve its conservation values.

What are the tax aspects of a conservation easement?
An easement has value as determined by an appraisal. Donating a qualified easement to the Conservancy will afford the landowner a charitable deduction. These benefits can include reductions in:

  • Income Taxes
  • Estate Taxes
  • Property Taxes

Learn more here.

After I give the easement, who owns the land?
You do! The property remains yours. It may be sold or inherited as before, but subject to the restrictions you have placed upon it.

How much land does it take to make a conservation easement worthwhile?
Size is not a factor. The key is in protecting the conservation values of the property. The GMLC has easements for as little as half an acre to more than 50 acres.

What is the objective of a conservation easement?
A conservation easement should restrict activities on the property to the extent necessary to protect its conservation values. It may encompass all or part of a property and may restrict various parts differently. An easement, to qualify for a deduction under the Internal Revenue Code, must show some public benefit but need not permit public access.

What are the tax aspects of a conservation easement?
An easement, which meets the requirements of Section 170(h) of the Internal Revenue Code, affords the owner-donor a deduction equal to the difference between the fair market value of the property unrestricted and the fair market value of the property subject to the restrictions of the easement.

What are the tax aspects of a Sale of Property to the Gates Mills Land Conservancy?
In some special circumstances, the GMLC may purchase property at less than its fair market value in which case the owner-seller can take a deduction for the difference between the fair market value of the property and its sale price to the Conservancy.

Why should I use Gates Mills Land Conservancy rather than another land conservation organization?
The GMLC is uniquely organized and exclusively serves the Village. The Mayor with the consent of Council appoints 1/3 of its Trustees and the membership consisting of Village residents elects the other 2/3 of the Trustees. They are your representatives working to preserve the conservation values in the Village.

Why is the Gates Mills Land Conservancy not part of Western Reserve Land Conservancy (WRLC)?
The Gates Mills Land Conservancy’s charter and mission are focused on the Village of Gates Mills. It is supported by a 1-mil tax levy to carry out this mission and believes it can serve the Village Citizens better as an independent organization. The GMLC has worked cooperatively with WRLC in protecting property in the Village and appreciates its assistance and expertise.

What is the GMLC's public access policy for properties owned by the Conservancy?
The Gates Mills Land Conservancy cannot and does not permit unrestricted access to its properties. We are not funded to maintain protected properties as public parks and do not have the resources or manpower to establish trails, or to police and maintain areas so that they will be safe for public access. The GMLC tax levy stipulates that the funds be used for the purpose of conserving, retaining, protecting and preserving areas in the Village predominately in their natural, scenic, open or wooded condition or as a suitable habitat for fish, plants or wildlife.  

What is Trust for Public Land?
Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national non-profit organization that conserves land for public purposes such as parks, gardens, and recreational areas. Since 1972, TPL has completed more than 3,400 projects conserving over 2.2 million acres in the United States preserved in perpetuity as public parkland. 

What is Land Trust Alliance?
Land Trust Alliance (LTA) was founded in 1982 as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation to expand knowledge and expertise to protect land by sharing information and resources through a national organization.